wXw The Inner Circle III on March 9, 2017
Essen, Germany – wXw Wrestling Academy
Absolute Andy vs. Paul London
Tons of banter with the ref and the crowd as that’s what the Inner Circle environment provides. London and Andy played up the big vs. small dynamic well, which continues to prove how wonderful Absolute Andy is at adapting to different matches. London sold for Andy a lot of the time, being rag dolled around. A spinebuster and knee drop was hit but that wasn’t enough. Andy ran into a superkick for a near fall, but later the same thing would happen to London! Andy missed a hurricanrana which led to a moonsault for a kickout. The second F5 of the match was tried for but London countered it into a roll-up for the win. This was a good opener that set the pace for the rest of the show. It escalated well.
WALTER vs. ACH
I had no idea what WALTER was saying pre-match in his promo (with Thatcher by his side), but I could just tell that it was godly. ACH played up the good old “what’s that?” trick in order to get WALTER out of his element, even using it once to apply a headlock. Not so sure if that’s the best gameplan, but ACH was ambitious the whole way through. Even though this was the shortest match on the show, it kept a super fun dynamic. ACH bumped around like a maniac for WALTER, trying to hang in there with counter-chops. Two near falls came with a German/butterfly suplex combo from WALTER, and a PK/cutter combo from ACH respectively. ACH somehow German’d WALTER. The finishing sequence was awesome with ACH trying to escape the sleeper, grabbing a hold of the ropes only to be dragged to the ground and submitted. If they had a longer match they would easily tear it up, but this remained a good showcase for both guys heading into 16 Carat.
Jeff Cobb vs. Marius Al-Ani
This was a match I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it on paper. Two of my favorites to watch in the world. Cobb is established now, but was once as young and hungry as Al-Ani, one of the top prospects in wrestling, is. He’s not just a prospect now, he’s 1/2 of the wXw Tag Champs. A lot more back and forth expected in this one, with Al-Ani managing to keep Cobb at bay for the majority of the time. When Cobb was unleashed though, it was as glorious as always, with all the pumphandle/fallaway/side suplexes you could ever want. Plus those beautiful moonsaults to boot. Al-Ani did an awesome matrix duck of Cobb’s lariat and managed to hit a suplex of his own. Not just that, but Al-Ani took a gutwrench suplex only to comeback and hit a spinning heel kick/death valley driver/frog splash combo to pin Cobb. The most 50/50 match on the show brought out the best in both guys’ arsenals. Sadly though, no Tour of the Islands. A big upset from any POV, but not when you look at it as Al-Ani is a champ and Cobb isn’t.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Francis Kaspin
Once again, a match I didn’t know I wanted until I got it. This is partly why Inner Circle exists. One of the tough tests during Carat weekend for Kaspin, as he’d go on to face Koji Kanemoto as well. Another surprising way a match was worked during this show, was that Kaspin hung on with Thatcher for the majority of the match. Lots and lots of grappling as you show your shocked face to me. Smug Thatcher laid into Kaspin when the time was right to get off the ground, yet Kaspin managed to ground Thatcher, locking in the Muta Lock. Beyond that, Kaspin even hit a fisherman suplex for a near fall. After an all-around showcase for one of the best young talents going in Europe, Thatcher locked in a sleeper, screaming “TAP!”, but that wasn’t enough; as it took a knee to the gut and a butterfly suplex to put Kaspin away. A great compliment to the card as not only is Thatcher in his element in wXw, but Kaspin gets the rub from this, as well as learning in ring/receiving a showcase.
David Starr vs. Matt Riddle
This is your main event. This is the third match between these two, as Riddle faced Starr early on in his career at Legacy Wrestling, then recently at CZW Awakening in a title vs. title match. They have suburb chemistry as an ongoing match series, with Riddle looking to get his first win against Starr. This match exemplifies what Inner Circle is all about. The unique atmosphere of working around the training center, the fans, a small bunch, electrifying the room with split chants, and gradual more intensity being added onto the light-hearted feel of the match. Engaging grappling to start with poor Bro’s nuts being hit in an exchange. “My balls hurt” was a phrase uttered. The fans made this in a lot of ways, going ballistic for their cult hero or their Bro. A Bro to Sleep and German were hit for a Starr kickout. In my favorite stretch of the match, Starr finally woke up, fighting through everything Riddle tried to give to him, eventually hitting a huge lariat, reversing the fisherman’s buster into a roll-up, AND countering the tombstone to only then hit two dives in a row. When Starr is fired up, you damn sure realize it. JML Driver, an elbow, and Product Placement weren’t enough to defeat Riddle. However one more did the trick as Starr, for the third time in a row, gets the best of Riddle. This time, not as a rookie, not in CZW, but on Starr’s home turf.
wXw THE INNER CIRCLE ON MARCH 9, 2017
Good - 7.5/10
If you're looking to cover all 16 Carat ground, be sure to watch Inner Circle. It doesn't happen often, but when it does on these big weekends, it provides a blend of young talent/imports/and wXw's best. Whether it's matches you didn't know you wanted, big feuds carried over to the Training Center, fans and their banter, or whatever else that comes with the events, Inner Circle is a can't miss easy to digest hour of wrestling.